Thursday, November 15, 2007

Paul Norris ~ R.I.P.
The creator of AQUAMAN,
and last Golden Age original (those wondrous artists and writers who gave us the first batch of modern-day mythic characters, now known as members of the "fabled" Justice League...) - also the long-time artist of Brick Bradford, has died in Oceanside, California at the age of 93.
(Here you can see a 1995 drawing of the character Mr. Norris co-created, as he was back in 1941. It is a drawing the venerable veteran artist had offered to Mark Evanier, veteran comic-book scribe yet much younger, who had actually requested it too...!)
It is only recently enough that DC Comics has been adding the notice "created by Paul Norris" to all AQUAMAN publications; some legal imbroglio prevents them from also crediting writer/editor Mortimer Weisinger, who died way back in 1978. But that is another story...
Paul Norris was a gentleman and a professional, whose work was never even remotely close to missing its deadline (for all 35 years+ that his Brick Bradford comic-strip lasted; and all of his comic-book work too, of course!) - heck, his work was never missing a beat either! Mr. Norris spun tales of adventure like no other; and even Stan Lee was in awe of him!
In truth, Paul Norris' work even deterred Japanese troops from fighting on, during World War II, as he was assigned to the production of propaganda leaflets - a batch of those was also prepared for the towns of Nagasaki and Hiroshima but the powers that be chose to drop the bomb instead, rather than another salvo of mere leaflets - all of which are surefire collectibles nowadays, as much as they are historical documents as well.
It is doubly sad to see a class act like Paul Norris go now - as his creation, Aquaman, is presumed dead himself but, inexplicably, is more mediatized than ever before as a plethora of new action figures made to his likeness have been released... A DVD has been released, one collecting his pilot episode (that wasn't picked up as an ongoing series by the CW network) and two appearances on Smallville that the character has made (portrayed by a different actor - or he claims to be an actor, anyway...) and the Sea King will feature prominently in the upcoming live action JLA movie too, there can be no doubt on that - 'tis a projected film, at any rate...
It must be a great feeling to see one's legacy -in this case, a character one has toiled over, once upon a time, long ago- being marketed like this (and it is still only moderate, marketing-wise...! Still, it is better than what countless other properties get, these days!) and it cannot be denied that he did leave something behind for the collective - something that endures.
Alas, Paul Norris will not enjoy any of that now.
He has moved on to bigger and greater things - in the afterlife.
His wife, who passed on in 2000, had been awaiting him there...
Two sons are now orphans - and must be feeling like the character, Aquaman, felt for the better part of his modern-day adventures... And as all Aquaman fans have been feeling since last year as well...

You will be missed in Oceanside, Paul Norris; you will be missed across this planet that is over 70% water... But we, who miss you so, can take solace in the knowledge that you have ascended into the water-bearer's age - hence, you are in a far better place now! So long, Mr. Norris!
Right: one of the many action figures
based upon Paul Norris' creation
to be made over the years - and,
IMHO, the best one too. Paul Norris'
last professional drawing to be published, ever, would be a 1987 depiction of AQUAMAN, yet again, on the tapestry of
multi-artistic renditions that was the
History of the DC Universe poster issued that year in the wake of anniversary celebrations.
Below: a video and a song that dear ol' Mr. Norris must have found quite amusing...

Now we have only one Mr. Norris...



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